Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just because they're out to get you doesn't mean you have to be paranoid

A couple of weeks ago, McQ noted that for the first time with any presidential administration, federal websites will start using tracking cookies. Naturally, civil libertarians were alarmed.

I had to be the voice of reason:
I can't say I'm too worried about this. Cookies are just anonymous trackers. Ordinary websites like Yahoo, Amazon, et al, only know you by the cookie they place and modify. Now, it's possible that the the federal government here, the one entity on the planet with the resources to track and the power to force ISPs to reveal who was using a particular IP at a certain time, could match you to a cookie. However, this is a no-worry for two reasons:

1. Cookies are easily blocked. If you use Firefox, you can set up a whitelist for cookies (block all cookies except for those domains you approve). If you prefer Internet Explorer, set it to block all cookies, which does not apply to websites in your Trusted Sites zone. (In fact, in Internet Explorer it's best to turn off all Java and JavaScript for your Internet Zone, as a matter of security, and add trustworthy websites to Trusted Sites.)

2. If the feds want to track anyone, it's already a piece of cake to do that via web server logs. Tracking by cookies is superfluous.

There's an argument against the principle of cookies, but as a matter of practicality, it's easily defeatable.
There are bigger concerns, like Obama continuing warrantless wiretapping (with not a word of criticism from Democrats, of course), and that his administration set up an e-mail address so that its loyalists could "snitch" on opponents. The e-mail address has been deactivated but was replaced by a submission form, so it's still there albeit in a different form. Consider that Obama's tactics are to smear and vilify opponents, using the power of his MSM propaganda machine to paint them as "racist," "greedy" or ignorant. Joe the Plumber's life was exposed in ways that required government access, but of course the methods could not be traced back to the White House.

This president has already shown himself, to anyone paying attention, to be as vengeful as any ever was. Yes, more so than Nixon. Do we really believe that the Obama administration will not use or act on any personal information that it claims it doesn't want people to include? The Secret Service has been set on someone who was completely misquoted by the pollsters who "reported" her, and they have confiscated people's cell phones "temporarily" when Michelle Obama walks into a fast-food restaurant. This administration is capable of anything.

Right now we only have to worry about unfair attacks on our character and reputation. That's nothing: it is sufficient for us to know we are on the side of righteousness. But there may come a time, and I fear soon, that the targeting will be more than words against us. It was never so easy for Tories to report colonial revolutionaries to British governors and local military officers.

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